BimmerWorld Scores Hard-Fought Sixth-Place Finish at Daytona
January 25th, 2020
Scrappy efforts often yield impressive results. That was the case for the BimmerWorld Racing team during the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona, with its No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries/Veristor BMW M4 GT4 scoring a very solid sixth-place result in a stout 33-car Grand Sport (GS) field. It was the highest-finishing BMW in the event.
The No. 82 machine, driven by team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va., and Devin Jones from Mooresville, N.C., bounced around the top-20 of the scoring pylon throughout the season-opener for the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge series before Jones finally brought it under the checkered flag in sixth place. A massive crash on the backstretch in the final minutes forced the race to end under yellow.
Clay believes that both the M4’s brakes and the drafting zones created by the high-speed, high banks of the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course in Daytona Beach aid in the F82-based M4 GT4’s strength at the facility.
“I think we’re very good under braking, and I thank BMW and Performance Friction for that, but beyond that when this car is in a pack at Daytona, it seems to find the top speed that we don’t always have,” he said. “Honestly, we had a car that would just pass people on the straights. If we could hang on and get up to their bumper, we could go by. That worked pretty well for us today.”
Clay began the race from the 16th starting spot behind the wheel of the No. 82 car, ultimately moving into the top 10 by the one-hour mark. He continued his steady progress forward and was running in the sixth position when the first full-course caution period of the race occurred with two hours and 50 minutes remaining. However, on the ensuing restart, Clay saw trouble brewing as cars made contact in Turn One and decided to focus on the big picture, not risking a damaged car and the loss of valuable points. The move dropped him to the 18th position, but Clay soon marched forward again and was running inside the top-10 when the race’s second full-course yellow came out and he handed the controls to Jones.
“We had a great car this weekend and we were going for it-not to the front, because I don’t think we had that kind of car, but we were good,” Clay said.
Jones restarted in the 12th spot with one hour and 43 minutes left and steadily went to work, overtaking several cars within the first few minutes of his stint. He inherited the lead at one point during a pit-stop cycle and held steady in the bottom half of the top-10, before advancing to sixth in the race’s closing minutes.
“For the start of the stint, I was able to gain a few positions. The car was pretty good right out of the gate so that was encouraging,” Jones said. “Our car is not as good in the infield, but through the ‘bus stop,’ it’s really good. So, we were able to kind of set people up and get big runs coming out of the bus stop,’ which works well here to pass cars. Our car is pretty good through the high-speed sections of the track. We struggle a little bit in the infield trying to put the power down compared to some of the other cars, but we were pretty competitive.”
Meanwhile, the second BimmerWorld entry this season, the No. 80 Racing to End Alzheimer’s M4 GT4 driven by Nick Galante and Dillon Machavern, ultimately came home 19th. It showed great speed for much of the event though, at one point running ahead of the No. 82 in the final two hours.
Galante, who hails from Greenfield, Mass., and is returning to the team for the first time since 2018, started the race 14th and hovered around the top-10 for the majority of his two hours behind the wheel. He was forced to be patient and change his driving style throughout that time, a result of the large field and the tire attrition prevalent during the course of the race.
“This field was larger than usual, and it was tougher with all the pressure from all the cars behind to pace yourself and not be so aggressive trying not to get passed,” he said. “So, it was easy to forget the patience part of it while in a dogfight front and rear. It was tough to focus, but halfway through my stint, I was able to stay off the curbs after seeing all the tires being popped. Then I found some patience. It was really tough. In the first hour, I wasn’t able to because there was a dogfight everywhere.”
Machavern of Charlotte, Vt., took over for the second half of the race, immediately showing good pace and working his way well inside the top-10 in his first race with the BimmerWorld team.
“The car was really good underneath me with fresh tires and I was able to start picking up spots right away,” he said. “So, really hats off to the guys for making it an easy car to drive. Everything was right how it should be.”
However, a pit stop miscue led to the team falling down the standings and being forced to claw back inside the top 20.
“From there it was just kind of taking everything we could get but there wasn’t much racing going on after that,” he said. “It was kind of just being safe, getting through the laps and holding on to what we had.”
For James Clay, a solid effort overall, two fast cars, and passionate drivers serve as the ideal building blocks for the nine remaining rounds this season.
“It is the first weekend and we have little things that we still have to fine-tune, but I’m just thrilled to be back in the car with Devin,” he said. “He drove an awesome race, as I would expect him to always do. Having Nick back on the team is just great for everybody, and Dillon is fantastic in the car. So, I’m just really looking forward to what the team does for the rest of the year.”
Television coverage of the BMW Endurance Challenge will air on NBCSN from 1-3 p.m. on Thursday, February 6.
Next up for BimmerWorld in the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge series is the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 at Sebring International Raceway on Thursday, March 19. Live coverage will be provided by TrackPass at 3:50 p.m., with the race airing on Thursday, March 26, from 3-5 p.m. on NBCSN.
No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries/Veristor BMW M4 GT4 – 6th place
No. 80 Racing to End Alzheimer’s BMW M4 GT4 – 19th place
The BMW M4 GT4
GT4 is a global racing class for mid-sized sports and GT cars. The unified set of rules allows manufacturers to offer a single racing car for multiple series around the world. BimmerWorld is one of the premier customers for BMW GT4 racing in North America, having competed continuously with the M4 in multiple series since the car was introduced. The race car is based on the F82 M4 street car, using the same S55 twin-turbo inline-6, 7-speed DCT transmission, and suspension layout. Only minor changes are made to make the M4 into a highly competitive race car. The M4 competes with more purpose-built sports cars like the McLaren 570S, Audi R8, and AMG Mercedes GT, along with other GT cars like the Ford Mustang.
BimmerWorld is the preeminent BMW racing/performance specialist in North America, racing professionally in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge (BMW M4 GT4), World Challenge GT4 America (BMW M4 GT4), and World Challenge TC America series (BMW M240i Racing). The team also made its third entry in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 2019 with a V8-powered BMW E36 M3. BimmerWorld also builds cars and supports racers in various BMW CCA, AER, NASA, and SCCA club series. Off the track, the business is the last, and only, independently-owned major BMW parts specialist in North America. The catalog at www.bimmerworld.com has everything from accessories and OEM replacement parts to highly specialized racing parts with a knowledgeable staff, competitive pricing, and quick service.
DAYTONA POST-RACE QUOTES:
No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries/Veristor BMW M4 GT4
What was your stint like from your perspective?
“I wasn’t super thrilled with qualifying but had a good stint. This car always races better in a pack at Daytona. As long as I could stay with a pack, I could make my way through. Once I got to the front of a pack, I’d lose a draft and have to ride around. I had a really good car under me today. As the rubber came down on the track the car got faster. We lost a couple of spots on a pit stop and on the second restart or so, it was getting a little wild and woolly, so I pulled the chute in Turn One because I saw cars banging against each other. It’s a four-hour race and I think that was an hour and a half in. Our approach to this thing, and why we’re there in the championship every year, is we don’t take dumb chances. So, I gave up a lot of spots but gained some of those back and then Devin continued to gain more back. We had a great car this weekend and we were going for it, not to the front, because I don’t think we had that kind of car, but we were good.”
Were there any areas of the track in which you felt the M4 GT4 was particularly good?
“I think we’re very good under braking, and I thank BMW and Performance Friction for that, but beyond that, when this car is in a pack at Daytona, it seems to find the top speed that we don’t always have. Honestly, we had a car that would just pass people on the straights, if we could hang on and get up their bumper, we could go by. That worked pretty well for us today.”
How did the race outcome compare to expectations for the team as a whole?
“We had the top two BMWs and it’s not necessarily a competition between us and other BMW teams more than it is with any other team out there, but we work hard and I’m proud of what we’ve done and I appreciate that. We had an error in the pits. I have a few green team members and we had an error that hurt us pretty bad on one of the No. 80 stops or else they would have been right there with the No. 82. I’m a little disappointed with that, but overall, I’m thrilled with the execution. On a weekend that we maybe didn’t have the car to go win the race, I’m really happy we got what we did, and I think that approach of having two clean cars at the end of the weekend is what wins championships. That’s where we’re headed again this year.”
What can you take away from this event to build upon heading into the rest of the 2020 IMSA season?
“It is the first weekend and we have little things that we still have to fine-tune, but I’m just thrilled to be back in the car with Devin. He drove an awesome race, as I would expect him to always do. Having Nick back on the team is just great for everybody and Dillon is fantastic in the car. So, I’m just really looking forward to what the team does for the rest of the year.”
How did you feel the race went overall?
“Overall it was a pretty good race, and we executed things pretty well. We had a little problem the first run; the tire pressure was a little bit off to start, which kind of hurt our first run. But once we got that fixed the car was pretty fast. We were able to kind of pick off people a little bit. We were hoping to go green again towards the end there to maybe gain a few more spots, but we’ll take sixth and move on. Not a bad start to the year.”
You passed several cars early in your stint, were you looking to be aggressive out of the box?
“For the start of the stint, I was able to gain a few positions. The car was pretty good right out of the gate, so that was encouraging. Our car isn’t as good in the infield, but through the ‘bus stop,’ it’s really good. So, we were able to kind of set people up and get big runs coming out of the ‘bus stop,’ which works well here to pass cars. Our car is pretty good through the high-speed sections of the track. We struggle a little bit in the infield trying to put the power down compared to some of the other cars, but we were pretty competitive. We didn’t have that last little bit to kind of get up there and contend with some of the guys that were really fast. Some of the Mercedes were really fast this weekend-we couldn’t quite hold pace with them. But we were quite equal with everyone else throughout the field, so that’s encouraging, and hopefully we can keep building off what we had here. It’s a long way to Sebring, but it’s good to start the year off not in a hole at least.
No. 80 Racing to End Alzheimer’s BMW M4 GT4
What stood out from your stint behind the wheel?
“I started 14th and had a good opening stint, passed some cars, got in my groove and was moving forward. As the tires started to warm up, I fell back a couple spots from not adjusting with the tires, but then I kind of found my groove again. Everyone was popping tires, so I got ahead of that and stayed off the curbs. It was tough to make a good lap time and still stay off the curbs, but I saw how many people were popping tires, so I thought it was important. On the restart, I had a little contact with one of the cars going into Turn One. Two cars were fighting, and they bumped into me as I was going by.
“We had a good pit stop with the driver change halfway through at the two-hour mark, but then on the second pit stop the tires weren’t ready and we had kind of a longer pit stop than anticipated, and that sent us way back, almost a lap down, and we clawed our way back to 19th. So not the worst day I’ve ever had racing, but we learned a lot and we’ll continue on.”
Did the large field that took the green flag (more than 50 cars between GS and TCR) play a role in the way you approached the start of the race and how did you deal with patience?
“This field was larger than usual, and it was tougher with all the pressure from all the cars behind to pace yourself and not be so aggressive trying not to get passed. So, it was easy to forget the patience part of it while in a dogfight front and rear. It was tough to focus. But halfway through my stint, I was able to stay off the curbs after seeing all the tires being popped. Then I found some patience. It was really tough. In the first hour, I wasn’t able to because there was a dogfight everywhere.”
What are your thoughts on your portion of the race?
“The No. 80 Racing to End Alzheimer’s M4 was actually really fast. Nick did a good job keeping it clean for me and moving it up a couple spots. I got in the car in a good position and was starting to make some decent headway during the first stint, and Devin and I were moving up together, which was really nice to have somebody out there that I could work with and that I could trust. Unfortunately, we had a little bit of a mishap on our second pit stop which put us a lap down. So, from there it was just kind of taking everything we could get but there wasn’t much racing going on after that, so it was kind of just being safe, getting through the laps, and holding on to what we had.”
You had a lot of pace from the green flag of your stint. How did you settle in with the new team?
“So even though we didn’t have a ton of dry practice, this morning’s practice was really valuable just to get settled back into the car, and then once I was in for my first stint, I felt really comfortable. The car was really good underneath me with fresh tires, and I was able to start picking up spots right away. So really, hats off to the guys for making it an easy car to drive. Everything was right how it should be. My job was easy.”
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